Lupin the 3rd TV Vol. #15: Thievin' Ain't Easy (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, July 07, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, July 04, 2006
What They Say
In this explosive volume, master thief Lupin sets his sights on the jewelry collection of a millionaire playboy whose brides don't seem to be able to survive the wedding. Then, in a slight turn of events, Lupin takes time out of his busy schedule to rescue a political leader from a nation torn by civil war. But then it's right back to the daily grind when Lupin must battle a possessed Goemon over a huge stolen emerald. And then, industrious man that he is, Lupin tries to see if he can take a shortcut towards getting what he wants - like making a robot that can manufacture diamonds! Finally, an orchestra conductor hypnotizes Fujiko and a packed audience into killing Lupin! Can he defend himself armed only with a single serving spoon?
Proving that even after this many stories there's still plenty of ground to cover, this volume hits up another five episodes that are all over the map.
For our primary review, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Considering its age, it's a very well kept piece that's done up essentially in mono, though enough of the sounds are played through both stereo speakers. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and there weren't any noticeable dropouts. These tracks aren't going to be real high usage for directionality compared to today's new releases, but this is definitely prime material from its time, which is what I want.
The transfer for these episodes continues much like we've seen previously, which means that they look surprisingly good for their age and have only some minor issues. The only thing that I can bring myself to complain about with the actual transfer is that some of the scenes are a bit grainy at times, but that's normal. Colors are solid without being over saturated, though there are brightness shifts inherent in older shows. Cross coloration is non-existent and aliasing is extremely low.
Split into three angular pieces with the top one being larger due to it including the continually awful logo, the character pieces are basically the same kinds of things we see in the opening sequence as it shows of Lupin, Fujiko and the love that is their car. The bottom of the cover has the branded volume name, this time with Thievin' Ain't Easy. The back cover provides several animation shots from the show as well as a brief paragraph describing the premise. The episode titles are listed as well as the discs features and production credits. The insert for this release provides a breakdown of chapters for the six episodes and some colorful artwork while the reverse side has the basic credits and production information. On the downside, there's no volume numbering listed here nor are episode numbers provided. While the show is definitely very episodic, I still think it's a mistake to not include at least the volume numbering somewhere.
A new menu is set for this volume and it's nicely done though I think I prefer the first one a bit more. Done in almost a shadow box like format, you get what looks like an unfolded piece of paper that has the selections and titles in various boxes while a shadow image of Jigen is across one of them while some of the action music plays along. Access times are nice and fast and with little here beyond the episodes, getting around is nice and easy. Unfortunately the players' language presets were not honored and the track dumped into an English audio with no subtitles.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With episodes seventy-five through seventy-nine here, the show continues to make its slow but upward trend from the low a couple of volumes ago. This set has five episodes that don't have any multi-part episodes and for the most part really avoid anything too far completely out of this world. Enough of it defies physics and other elements of nature of course but they're all within that realm that most people will accept for a show like this.
There is a good bit of fun to be had across these episodes. I particularly enjoyed the opening episode that deals with Fujiko all dressed up as a bride and marrying a millionaire playboy. It turns out that she's the 100th wife of this guy, something people know about, as all his previous wives have simply died. He's even supposedly got his own cemetery on his vast estate so they can be close in the long term. Fujiko's wedding doesn't go quite as planned though as when the happy couple come out of the chapel, Lupin's there and upset about losing his one true love. So upset in fact that he shoots her and then takes his own life after leaping off the roof with explosives strapped around his waist. It's Lupin at his most over dramatic!
Of course, there's far more here than meets the eye as we learn the mystery of the dead wives and what kind of real treasure is hidden inside the estate as well as the means by which the gang is going to achieve them. It's got a few neat tricks to it and it's fun to watch Lupin acting so dramatic and then see how he pulls off the caper after dying so early on. There is a sense of déjà vu with this episode, more so in that we're dealing with yet another eccentric and creepy millionaire, but with Fujiko in a wedding dress for most of the episode it's a fanboy dream.
Another episode that turned out rather well despite a shaky premise has Zenigata being teamed up with a psychic who uses a crystal ball to tell the future. Zenigata's unsure as to whether this will actually work since it's got him in a hotel room with her where there isn't expected to be anything worth stealing, but as it turns out a very rich new king is staying there incognito and he has with him the very valuable Flame of Poseiden jewel. Fujiko's already on her way to swipe it through her charming ways while Lupin and the gang go for the more obvious route. Surprisingly, the psychic is pretty spot on about what Lupin's doing but she's got a real neat trick to it that has the gang turning on each other, or rather, turning on Lupin and trying to kill him. With some of the gang acting out of character and some of the highly amusing accurate looks at old technology, this episode is a hoot as it brings in the entire psychic angle as well.
The episode that surprised me the most in how much I enjoyed it has Fujiko calling Lupin and the others to come help her out with a new robot that the scientist who supplies Lupin with gizmos with has created. Apparently this robot, which looks like a squat sized carnival bartender, can actually make diamonds. The thing just rumbles a bit and then pops a few out of its eye. So many that Fujiko actually made a dress out of them and they're real, since they apparently can deflect bullets. With this taking place in the Broadway part of New York City, it's little surprise that a gangster gets involved and swipes the robot so that he can ply his beautiful girl friend with the diamonds and make her his. Nothing goes right from here and it's a comical back and forth kind of piece where everyone has a hard time getting the right things to the right places. It's also amusing how the backgrounds and cars all make the area look like it came out of the prohibition era and a gaudy Vegas interpretation of Broadway.
With some lighter adventures and overall very different capers across the five episodes, this was a pretty enjoyable show. It also helped that for the most part the mildly coarse language used in the dub was less this time around as well, making it more accessible to a wider audience. While I know full well that the show is rated 13 and up, the original language is something that you can let just about anyone watch and they'd have no issue with it while the English is goosed up a bit. This far into the series though, you basically know what you're getting and what we get is pretty good. Not the best Lupin has to offer but it's enjoyable and getting more previously unreleased material in North America is not a bad thing.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Samsung BD-P1000 Blu-ray player via DVI set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Lupin the 3rd